Top 5 Storylines of the 2022 US National Championships – Men’s Edition


With less than a day until the 2022 US National Championship meet in Irvine, it’s time to take a look at all of the biggest storylines to follow. Even with many members of the World Championship team opting out of this competition, stars still lead the psych sheets, setting up for an exciting week in Irvine.

Here are the top men’s storylines to follow:

1. World Champs Athletes Swimming Non-Worlds Events

With the big international meet wrapped up for USA Swimming’s biggest stars, some of the men on the Worlds’ roster are taking the opportunity to swim events they did not compete in at Worlds.

The most intriguing of these entries is Shaine Casas in the 200 IM. At the San Antonio Pro Series, he fired off a 1:56.70, which had many excited for his race at U.S Trials. However, he opted out of the race due to its conflict with the 200 back (which he had already qualified for). At Austin Sectionals earlier in July, he scratched once again. If he actually swims it in Irvine, he could throw down something special. He also entered the 100 free and 100 fly. He did swim those events in Austin, producing 48.23 in the 100 free, which would have qualified him for Worlds in third and 50.56 in the 100 fly, which would have won silver in Budapest.

Kieran Smith entered his Worlds events, the 200 and 400 free. However, he’s also slated to swim the 100 free, 800 free, 200 IM, and 400 IM. He swam both the 100 free and 200 IM at U.S Trials, and finaled in both events so it isn’t totally surprising to see those on his lineup. His best time in the 400 IM is 4:15.19 from 2019 Nationals. He’s entered with a yards time and will be in an early heat–watch for him to drop a lifetime best.

His Florida teammate Bobby Finke is also slated to swim in the 400 IM. Finke finished third at U.S Trials, .07 behind Chase Kalisz. Can he improve on his 4:10.57 and put up a time that would’ve qualified him for Worlds in a third event?

2. Will Justin Ress Keep Rolling? 

The new World Champion in the 50 back, Justin Ress comes into Nationals riding lots of momentum. Ress was open about heading into U.S Trials with “the goal of having fun and not putting pressure on [himself].”  That strategy paid off, as he booked his ticket to Budapest and set personal bests in the 100 free, 50 back, and 100 back.

With no 50 back on the schedule, he’ll take another crack at the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 back. After a wild and adrenaline filled Worlds, this should be a more relaxed meet for him. Not only will there be less pressure (and hopefully no DQs) but it’s also practically local for him now that he’s training with the Mission Viejo pro group. If he brings his attitude from Trials with him to this calmer setting, we could sit him hit at least one more best time this season.

3. How Will the NCAA Sprint Stars Fare?

After having strong college seasons in yards, will the NCAA sprinters be able to translate those yards successes into meters? What makes the case of the NCAA swimmers so interesting is the tight turnaround they had between their championships and U.S Trials. Despite the lack of time, many college swimmers thrived at Trials, making the Worlds roster and dropping best times.

Adam Chaney and Jack Dolan both competed in Greensboro, though neither made the team nor swam best times in non-stroke 50s. With a little more rest and another block of training done, this could be the meet where they showcase their long course skills. Chaney has felt on the cusp of a breakout for a while–is this the meet it will finally happen?

On the other hand, neither Andrei Minakov nor Matt King were at U.S Trials. Minakov, who competes for Russia internationally, has long since proven his long course prowess. He stayed in the States this summer to train at Stanford. This is his first long course season since joining the Cardinal, and given the success that he had in short course, he could drop some big swims. He’s slated to race the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly.

In his first season with Virginia, King had a solid season and was a huge addition to the rising Cavaliers. Racing at Virginia Long Course Senior Champs, he roared to lifetime bests in the 50 and 100 free, 22.36 and 48.87. Since underwaters aren’t his strong suit, it follows that the Virginia training is really taking hold in his long course races. He’ll presumably be more tapered for Nationals than he was for Senior Champs so he might not be done dropping time.

4. What Form Will the Athletes Who Skipped Trials Bring?

It was not just sprinters who opted out of Trials. Reece WhitleyJake MagaheyBrooks Fail, and Matt Fenlon are just some of the other NCAA stars who didn’t race in Greensboro, but will race at Nationals. The most surprising of these entries is Whitley, who seemed to be edging towards retirement after exhausting his NCAA eligibility.

The question for these athletes is the same as it is for their sprinting counterparts: after a strong college season, what will they bring to the big pool?

Whitley is entered in both breaststrokes, and Magahey will take on the 100/200/400/800 free. At Georgia’s Summer Invite, Magahey swam lifetime bests in the 200 and 400 free, 1:47.10 and 3:48.35, respectively. He could drop again in those events, but also look for what he brings to the 100 and 800 free as well. In particular, the 100 is outside the box for him, as he is a much better distance swimmer than he is a sprinter.

Fail won four events at the Arizona State Senior Championships, posting 8:1263 in the 800 and 1:58.15 in the 200 fly. Look for him to be faster in Irvine.

5. Teen Stars Tune Up for Junior Pan Pacs

Unlike the senior team, the juniors still have their big international competition coming up. Junior Pan Pacs take place at the end of August in Honolulu, Hawaii but until then, some of the big names from the roster will suit up in Irvine. Seven of the boys heading to Pan Pacs are scheduled to race at U.S Nationals, lead by Thomas Heilman and Ilya Kharun.

Most are entered in the events they’ll race at Pan Pacs–Diggory Dillingham is in the 50 free, Ben Delmar is in the 200 breast, and some have added other events as well. Given that their big taper meet is still to come, we aren’t expecting them to be fully rested for this meet. However, it’s still worth following what times they put up as they prepare for Junior Pan Pacs.

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7 months ago

So I’ve been off swimming news since worlds, did we ever find out what caused Caeleb to withdraw? Any news from him at all in the interim?

7 months ago

Kieran could get first or last-he’ll always have my heart 🥺

7 months ago

Think there should be a #6…. Still no info out of Camp Dressel

7 months ago

No mention of Max McHuge in section 4!? Expecting some big things

7 months ago

heat sheets are up–Katie scratched the 100 free and Bobby scratched the 1500 :/

Steve Nolan
Reply to  chickenlamp
7 months ago

Ah c’mon Katie we wanna see you go fast.

Finke out of the 1500 is fiiiiiine, as long as he does that 400.

7 months ago

I still feel like the top storyline is the one that isn’t at this meet…

Reply to  elyk
7 months ago

I agree also he’s posted to his insta story once last week and it had nothing to do with swimming or anything that we would be concerned about. This is all speculation but I’m tending to believe he’s done for the remainder of the year though. Once he got sick, and had to withdraw, his mentality could have changed not for the better and he could be taking a months long break before anything is said and done. But who knows exactly. I definitely have no idea just complete speculation.

7 months ago

I’m think Finke will surprise a lot of people and come close to the times he put up at Worlds. Considering how much time he dropped between Trials and Worlds, I think he has the potential to go a 4:08 400 IM if he’s in peak form.

I do think he’s better off focusing on the 4 IM over the 4 free leading up to Paris with his amazing endurance and closing speed. If he can find time in training to make improvements on his breast stroke leg, he is a legitimate threat to beat Carson Foster and finish with a silver in Paris. Eddie Reece has his swimmers focus on their worst stroke every day in morning practice which… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Kevron
Reply to  Kevron
7 months ago

It feels like he’s been close to a breakthrough in the 400 IM for a while, hoping this is the meet it happens. He scratched the 1500, hopefully that means he’s aiming to put down some big times in 400 IM and 400 free

Former Big10
7 months ago

Really hoping Casas has a big meet. Also looking for the Florida men to rebound after a sub par world championships.
Will there be any breakout breaststroke performances? My money is on Fallon to be sub 2:10, would be great if he could get down to 2:08. McHugh 59 low or 58 high would be awesome.

Reply to  Former Big10
7 months ago

Bobby won the 800 and got silver in the 1500 and Kieran won the 4×2 and finaled in two events, but sure!

Former Big10
Reply to  Apathetic
7 months ago

Bobby had a great meet, you’re right. Kieran and Trey were a bit off.

Reply to  Former Big10
7 months ago

Trey went a best time in the 400 free. I wouldn’t call that being off.

Reply to  Former Big10
7 months ago

What is Fallon’s LTB?

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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